Liam Cahill 1950-2022.

Liam Cahill - a man for all seasons


Only last week, we exchanged emails with Liam Cahill, the writer, historian, and former journalist, who was thanking us for coverage of the Jim Connell Festival in Kells, which he had spoken at.

On Monday, we learned of the sudden death of the former RTE correspondent, public relations specialist, and ministerial media advisor, at his home in Clavinstown, Drumree.

It was a tremendous shock as he had been active on social media on Sunday, and we offer our sympathies to his children, Eoin and Susan, who also lost their mother, Patricia, in October 2015.

In recent years, Liam had concentrated on history publications, and the Waterford native was delighted in April to receive an award from the Waterford News and Star for his book on his cousin, Mossie Quinlan, who fought with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.

He was presented with the award for best new book by a Waterford author for 'From Suir to Jarama - Mossie Quinlan's Life and Legacy'.

His previous successful work was 'Forgotten Revolution, The Limerick Soviet 1919', telling the story of the people, personalities and events that made 1919 such a pivotal year in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War 1919-23. First published in 1990, he republished an updated version for the centenary in 2019.

In Limerick, the workers and their representatives took over running the city and their action is declared a ‘Soviet’. The workers are protesting against a severe British military law that requires them to get special passes and be checked going to and from work. The restrictions follow the IRA shooting of a policeman and wounding of another while rescuing a Republican hunger striker from hospital.

Liam Cahill addressing the Jim Connell Commemoration in Kells on the June bank holiday weekend.

Initially a political reporter, Liam Cahill seamlessly crossed the political divides as an advisor to various ministers, while he was also able to crossover to public relations industry, while maintaining a deep interest in Gaelic games matters, with a website devoted to football and hurling.

First living at Riverstown, Kilmessan, on their move to Meath, the family moved to Clavinstown, Drumree, on the Dunsany-Dunshaughlin road, some 20 years ago.

Born in Waterford in 1950, he grew up in Ballybricken, in the old historical Fair Green part of the city, and attended Mount Sion Christian Brothers School. His great grandfather Alderman Maurice Quinlan owned two butcher’s shops in George’s Street, Waterford, in the early 1900s, and was Mayor of Waterford in 1906-’07.

Liam then joined the ESB’s accounts section, based in Cork and Waterford, before taking up a position in the Civil Service, with the Revenue Commissioners. He graduated from UCD with a law degree in 1977.

Liam Cahill at a NEPP rally. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

His main interests were by now in journalism and trade unions, and he was getting published by the Irish Press, Evening Press, and Hibernia magazine.

In 1979, he got a position as a full-time official with the Federated Workers Union of Ireland. When RTE advertised for two specialist reporters - in industrial relations and economics, he applied, and became part of a team focusing on industrial relations, finance and economics.

In 1989, when Sean Duignan was appointed presenter of the Six-One News, Liam Cahill succeeded him as ‘pol corr’ - political correspondent.

When Charles Haughey took over the European Union Presidency for six months in 1990, Cahill was asked to be spokesperson in Brussels for six months. Shortly after his return, he became head of public affairs and communications at Allied Irish Bank.

When Albert Reynolds succeeded Haughey as Taoiseach in 1992, David Andrews was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, and he brought Cahill in to run his press office. With the formation of the FF-Labour coalition later that year, Andrews moved to Defence and brought Cahill with him as programme manager. He was working alongside Sean Duignan again, now Albert Reynolds’ media manager.

After that Government fell, and Liam Cahill signed on social welfare for a while to take stock, an opportunity arose to become media relations manager at Intel in Leixlip, then less than a decade in Ireland and building up its presence.

Following his Intel years, he moved into public relations firms, working with Keating and Associates before setting up his own Liam Cahill Consultancy.

Clients included the RISE campaign - Rural Ireland Says Enough - launched in opposition to a proposed Ward Union Hunt ban; and the North East Pylon Protest group - NEPP.

President Higgins received Liam Cahill (right), author of ‘Forgotten Revolution, The Limerick Soviet 1919’, a new book on the role of workers in the War of Independence, at Áras an Uachtaráin, . Also pictured is Liam's daughter Susan. Photo: Barry Cronin Photo by Barry Cronin

A former director of communications with the Labour Party (2005-’06), he also worked with the late Shane McEntee of Fine Gael, Nessa Childers, Labour MEP, and Thomas Byrne when he ran in the European Elections in 2014. His last political appointment was as media advisor to the former Labour Leader, Alan Kelly, when he was Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government from September 2014 to October 2015.

His interest in the humanities led him to art, and creative writing, and following Patricia’s death, he undertook a Maynooth University Certificate in Creative Writing for Publication, graduating with first class honours in 2017. At the time of his passing, he was working on a novel that looks at the lives of some young men in a provincial Irish city in the summer of 1971, a turning point in Irish politics, North and South. He also had a WordPress blog ‘The Twelve O’Clock Blog’, and was a member of the Boyne Writers' Group in Trim.

Liam Cahill produced many paintings, which he gave as presents to family and friends as gifts. He performed the openings of exhibitions for the late Kilmessan artist, Micheal O'Brien, and for Enfield artist, Pat Holton.

Red headed Cahill was far ahead of his time as publisher and editor from 2000 to 2012 of an innovative and leading website for GAA fans 'An Fear Rua - The GAA Unplugged!’ in which he columnised and opined on the Gaelic games of the day.

One of Liam Cahill's favourite photos was this one of him at Maguire's on the Hill of Tara by Barry Cronin. Photo by Barry Cronin

A fluent Irish speaker, he penned a column as Gaeilge for the Irish Times for a period.

When his children were young and involved in sports, he helped out in Dunsany GFC and Dunshaughlin Youths FC, and was on the board of management of Scoil na Rithe, Dunshaughlin.

At just 72 years of age, Liam Cahill is gone to soon. An engaging conversationalist and captivating writer, as well as a genuinely decent human being, he had so much more to give, and his sudden death robs us of many stories and lived experiences from an extraordinary career in Irish public life. He is justly deserving of the tributes that have been heaped on his from media and political colleagues and from the President, Michael D Higgins, this week.

To Susan and Eoin, his sister May and his entire extended family, sympathy is extended.

Liam will be reposing at McEntaggart's Funeral Home, Dunshaughlin, on Sunday evening from 5pm until 8pm. A Funeral Mass takes place at 11 o'clock on Monday in St Martin's Church, Culmullen followed by burial alongside Patricia in the adjoining cemetery.